Have you ever been trapped in a cycle of saying ‘yes’ to everything and putting your own needs on the back burner? We’ve all been there. This episode is all about setting boundaries around how we use our time and energy. Listen in as we explore how to navigate boundaries, evaluate the interactions that drain our energy and time, and learn how to say ‘no’ even to the things we care about in order to do more of the things that rank higher on our priority list. Through our discussion, we focus on the art of setting boundaries and how it can liberate you from feeling trapped in ‘good intentions’ and help you create a balance between being mom-centered and c You’ll learn how to use two simple questions to sort through decisions and prioritize activities that align most with your values. We’ll also discuss methods for holding boundaries even when someone doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.
Learn how to gain clarity, stay connected, and prioritize your needs, because by taking care of yourself, you can better care for both mom and kids!
What you will learn on this episode:
– The significance of safety and health as values in setting boundaries.
– How to confidently navigate the balance of saying ‘yes’ and ‘no’
– The dangers of saying ‘yes’ to everything and sacrificing personal needs.
– How to make decisions aligning with your values and decline those that do not
– Techniques to uphold your boundaries even when faced with persuasive situations
– The importance of teaching children to develop their own boundaries
– The concept of the ‘boundary sandwich’ and the ‘broken record’ techniques.
– The use of ‘spacers’ as a tool to give yourself time to think before making decisions.
I absolutely love to hear your thoughts and get your questions.
You can email me at: Leighagermann@gmail.com
I can’t wait to hear from you!
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00:43 – Leigh (Host)
Hi, friends, so glad to be back with you today.
I was thinking about the process that I go through when I put together the list of things that we’re going to be talking about in our episodes, kind of the schedule for what we’re talking about. I just wanted to pop in here before we start our episode today and just remind you that one of the things that I’m doing is walking through the resiliency system. Our goal is to come together and be resilient as moms, to be able to have those skills available to us so that we know how to get through difficult times and how to thrive when things are going smoothly. That is what resilience is. The resiliency system is a model that I’ve put together that encompasses the skill sets that we are talking about Today. We are in self-protection. If you want a visual of this, I invite you to go to my website, leegermancom, and you can click on the tab in the navigation bar that says resiliency system. It will explain to you and give you a really nice visual of the skill sets that make up this system that we’re working through. Today. We are in self-protection. Self-protection is a really interesting category. I love this pillar in the system because it helps us have some real-life tools for the kinds of stressors that we face. One of those tools is boundaries. Today we’re going to talk about boundaries.
When I say that word, I wonder what comes to your mind. What kinds of things do you use boundaries for, what situations and how do you feel when you hear that word? For a really long time, I heard the word boundary and thought tough, hard-nosed, the place where I had to really stand up with some intensity and draw a line and kind of hold it. And certainly when I get angry, that is one of the first things I think about doing. I may be angry because someone crosses over a boundary or because there wasn’t a boundary and there should have been one, because I’m here experiencing something that is making me feel some kind of threat and that’s not okay. So I’ll be looking for a boundary and if I’m angry, I’m going to set a boundary so you can’t have access to me. So that’s one way that we use boundaries, and they often get associated with anger, like violations, having to put our foot down, and I think this is a great example of a traditional boundary a line that’s drawn that demarcates where something is allowed and something is not allowed, kind of like a fence with a keep out sign.
The formal definition of boundaries is this Boundaries define the physical, emotional and psychological space you need to feel comfortable, safe and respected in your interactions with yourself and with others. And that’s going to show up in two different ways in how boundaries come into our lives. There are external boundaries, in which we’re working with our relationships with people, and it involves other people’s interactions with us. And then internal boundaries, the things that are happening within us, in our thoughts, in our feelings and also in how we make decisions and make choices about how we spend our time and our energy. We will talk more about external boundaries in a workshop I’m creating to help us navigate those complicated relationships, and maybe I’ll also do an episode on this too, because I have such a cool model that really helps us set and keep boundaries with other people. But today I want to focus mostly on an aspect within our internal boundaries, and that’s setting boundaries around your time and your energy. Basically, it comes down to making choices about where you want your time and energy to go, and I don’t know about you, but this has been kind of hard for me in the past. I mean, there’s so much that I’ve always wanted to do, so many good things that I care about, and all too often I find it harder and harder to say no to things, which often means I would get overbooked or, in the very least, I would be caught up in doing good things when what I really wanted to do is what I might call doing better things, things that aligned much more directly with something that was important to me at that moment. And I see this with people I work with all the time.
Since this last week, I had a client that’s struggling with these kinds of decisions and choices in her life. She was a mom of four kids. She served at the PTA in her middle school, was room mom in three of her children’s classrooms, held multiple positions at her church and was the go-to friend to watch her neighbor’s kids. At the last moment’s notice, she’d been known as Superwoman her entire life and there wasn’t a person who didn’t think she was the greatest friend, the best committee member and the most charitable giver on the planet. But here’s the problem Deep inside she was tired, feeling resentful and actually kind of angry, and I asked her about it. I asked her how she was feeling, how it was all going. I’m out of steam. I can’t do it anymore. That’s what she told me. If I stop, I don’t know what will happen. The teachers all depend on me and my friends will think I don’t care. So I spent a few minutes understanding more, going a little deeper, being able to see this pattern in her life, and then I was able to explain to her that she was not alone in feeling this way. It is so common. I struggle with it at times and I bet you do too.
Many of us think that we have to do it all say yes to everything, or at least to most things, or maybe we feel like we need to be nice or always helpful, and often this happens to the exclusion of our own needs, and I think for a long time it felt like this was how I felt good about myself. It really can translate into how we feel worthy of love or appreciation, and this belief, of course, is not true and it creates impossible expectations in order to feel good about ourselves. And this is one reason why we lay down the foundational understanding of your essential self that your value and your worth is already established and you don’t need to earn it by saying yes to everything. This woman’s biggest worry was disappointing people, disappointing the people, especially that she cared about, because she wanted to be there for them and help, but was facing a bit of a crisis inside of herself. She really needed to pull back and slow down, but she could not imagine telling any of her friends no if they asked for something.
And it’s so easy for us to feel trapped in that kind of good intention and lose the vision of the true nature of friendship, because it’s supposed to be a give and a take, not a give and a give and a give. It’s meant to be a place of refuge. Friendship is not a place of servitude. So if she gave up her role of giver, she wondered if she’d have any relationships left and it was really scary for her. It felt very threatening to think of slowing down or saying no, putting some of her own needs first before others. What if she wasn’t valued by others as much? That is a scary thought. It felt to her that she had to earn those relationships or else she could lose them.
And as long as we’re tied up in earning our worth or earning that feeling of being enough, we’re actually caught in a trap that kind of chews us up and spits us out into an exhausted and resentful heap. This good woman who was doing so much looked like a superwoman, someone who was so strong and powerful and in control. She was actually suffering from a loss of power in her life and it’s a little sneaky because it feels really powerful to say yes to a lot of things, to be active and involved. But I also think there’s this tipping point where we feel in control and we’re making choices and all is good, and then our time gets stretched really thin and our choices can start to feel like they aren’t so much ours anymore and that can really wear us out and cause us to feel that little bit of a trap, because we set an expectation for ourselves, maybe even for others, that we can handle it and that we even want to handle everything. And we do in the beginning.
Have you ever sat in the relatively quiet of your house and planned a weekend or a trip and packed those plans with so many things? That seemed just fine as you were sitting quietly in your living room, but when the day arrived you realized you were very over scheduled, the timeline too tight, the expectations not quite as reasonable in real life as they look from our quiet living room. This is how things sneak up on me too. I have good intentions, big ideas, lots of goodwill, and so I plan things or offer and agree, all in good faith, but with very little protection for myself. Sometimes I let my desire to care for others lead without considering my care for myself, and this is a very tricky balance, because only looking at ourself and our needs can also create an imbalance that can be narrow and limiting and kind of fear based, but not looking at our needs at all can leave us exhausted and can lead to depression and anxiety.
So we’re looking for a sweet spot here, one where we consider everyone’s needs, including our own, and I see this most in families with moms who are committed to giving their kids just what they need to thrive, but often forget to add themselves to the list. And that’s when things get off balance and moms start to go down In the grand vision. No one should be going down in our families. We all need good care. This is our kids’ childhood. They’re time to get what they need, but it’s also our time and our lives that we will never get back again.
So being mom-centered which is what we’re talking about here right, being focused on being centered in your life and having clarity and being connected and taking care of yourself that’s what I call mom-centered and then child-focused, which means considering what your kids need and letting that make a lot of your decisions. Once you are centered, this gives us permission to take care of both mom and kids, and we can substitute dads in here too, or say your parents. But I just want you to be thinking about that baseline expectation that you need things to and you have responsibility to take care of yourself and permission to do so. Once you really know this and can own it, your greatest tool to help you make that happen is boundaries. We want our decisions about how we spend our time to be about things that matter to us In priority, with plenty of freedom to make the wisest decisions for us at any given time, and boundaries really help us do that. This is that internal kind of boundary that I’m speaking of. Not only do you need to feel physically safe, but emotionally and psychologically you want to be able to feel comfortable and safe and respected, with yourself as well as with others, and this really invites your awareness into your own decision-making process in how you choose to spend your time and your energy. And I think the really important boundary questions are these Am I owning my responsibility to say yes and to say no? In other words, do you choose what you do, and does that choice honor your safety, does it allow for you to take care of yourself and does it reflect the things that you care the most about? These are not the usual questions we ask ourselves when we’re making decisions about how to use our time. What I find in my work with moms is that this is why we have so much exhaustion, burnout and resentment. So using boundaries in your decision-making can free you from that.
So let’s talk about how to set boundaries. The first thing that I think we need to do, step one, is to look to our values to decide what we want to be our guide. Ultimately, we all have the same bucket of time we’re dealing with, and what may be most important to one person may not be as important to the next. And this is the beauty of getting connected to your values, where you decide how to use your precious time each day and remember values are those things that matter most to you. They’re the things that serve as your guiding star, the things, at the end of the day, you really want to have happening in your life. You can go back to episode four and listen to more on values and how they help us, but basically, it’s always good to have a working list in your mind of what your top values are. They’re going to be so important in helping you set your boundaries.
So I always want you to consider starting with the value of safety, and I’m going to ask you all to add this value to your list, because many of us just assume safety or don’t even think about it and that actually causes problems. For us sometimes. Safety is actually a value and it can look very serious, like life or death kinds of safety, or it can look like protecting your health by making sure you get enough sleep. I love the word safety because it counters the word threat and the nervous system definitely has a threat response that, when it’s turned off, it lets your body heal and thrive when it feels safe. So it’s safe for you to be rested, hydrated, soothed and supported. It’s in the threat category when you’re running ragged, dehydrated, stressed to the max and feeling alone and unsupported. So consider adding safety and health to your list of values, adopting them in if they aren’t already there.
Now, when you’re in your values, step two pick your priorities, pay attention to all the things you care about, but let some of them rise to the top. This just isn’t a good idea. It’s actually a necessity and it’s one reason why I like to spend time envisioning what I want in my life, in my relationships, in my parenting, because my guess is that most of the things you’re doing in your life right now fit into a good that’s air quote good category. But how do they match up with your highest priorities. We all face these challenges because a lot is buying for our attention and time. So I can say yes all day to 100 things, especially if I don’t have my calendar in front of me Most things I want to help with, but in the end, with just one bucket of time, we have to make decisions, and if you don’t ask your opinion first, others will take that position in getting first dibs on your time and energy. So we have to ask ourselves first, and you might need time thinking about what you want your life to look like, and I want you to prepare for this. It’s probably gonna involve letting someone down it usually does, so this can be hard. But here’s the question who are you going to support first?
There actually is a hierarchy in our lives. We have responsibilities to certain people in our lives, particularly our children, our family, maybe people that we might say are in our inner circles, the people that we are committed to, that we have responsibility for and I’m gonna go one step before that. I think our first responsibility is to our own safety and wellness and then to those in our inner circle, and then it spreads out from there. I use this with families to help them make the hard decisions about where they need to spend their time and put their focus. We use it to determine if someone is out of balance, over committed to their employment, over committed to the care of the house or over committed in their service in their church or community. Because for all of us, we can accidentally just slide out of balance, putting our time and energy in outer circles and sometimes neglecting our own care or the connection with and care for those in our innermost circles, where our responsibility and reciprocity actually becomes the priority. So knowing your values, having your priorities clear in your mind, will help you as you make decisions and know what’s really in your best interest to do and not to do.
Step number three because you’ve connected with your values and have an idea about your priorities, you’re ready for the steps to saying yes and no, and we think of boundary setting as saying no, and that is usually super hard, isn’t it? I hate telling people no and for years I do anything to not have to do it. I’d say yes when I really wanted to say no. I’d avoid answering the phone, avoid a person at a party or gathering and generally try to hide out so I wouldn’t get asked to do something because I found it so hard to say no. But owning your ability to say yes and no is one of the main tasks in honoring healthy boundaries. But it can be hard sometimes to know which answer to give, especially when we want to please the people we care about. In fact, it can be almost easier to go one way or another. You know like tend to swing into all or nothing when we get tired or scared about making these kinds of decisions, saying yes to everything or no to everything. And neither of these extremes help us feel confident and safe with boundaries. So either we’re overrun by the demands of others or we run the risk of becoming disconnected and isolated from others and missing opportunities. So a better way is to own our yes and no with confidence, and this is part of having healthy boundaries.
You get to decide what to do with your time and energy. So you can basically ask yourself two questions what energizes me and what drains me? In other words, what are the things, people, activities and pursuits that energize me, what grounds me, what brings me that feeling of peace and satisfaction? These are the experiences that align with your values and your sense of meaning and purpose in life. And the next question what are the things, people and activities that drain me or cause me to feel resentful? Are these experiences within my control or out of my control? What am I doing that I don’t wanna be doing? What does my inner wisdom tell me should be happening for my best good? Asking yourself these kinds of questions can help you sort through the decisions you have to make each day regarding how you spend your time and where you focus your energy.
Okay, step four front load your yes and it will become clear when and where you need to say no. These yeses can guide you in knowing when to say no, because you’ve already committed to the activities that most align with your values, and this is important because you only have that one bucket of time and energy, right? So you wanna say yes to things that match your highest priorities and the things that align most with what you care about? Okay, this is kind of where it starts to get real. How do you know you’re saying yes to the things that really matter to you?
I’m running around and you probably are too putting out fires and just trying to show up in all the places that I’m supposed to be and doing everything, and sometimes I can’t even really tell whether the things I’m doing are aligning with the things that matter most to me. I mean, I don’t know. Would I say that taking the garbage out and doing laundry and all of those things are the things that are most important to me? I certainly need them to happen so that I can have my household run smoothly and stuff I have to get done that’s just kind of required. I feel like it can really be easy to be caught in a mountain of have to do. I feel like it can be really easy to get caught in this big, under this mountain of to-dos that almost just seem like they have to be done, and this whole talk of saying yes and no to things can feel a little ridiculous, especially when you feel so overwhelmed. But I’ll tell you the way that I know whether I’m hitting the things in my life and on my schedule, in my calendar, with my energy, the things that I really care about.
It’s when I’m going to sleep at night and I’m having thoughts about the things that I really want to do in my day. As I’m evaluating my day, that’s often when my thoughts will go to the bigger priorities. I’m not thinking about the trash. I’m not thinking about the dishwasher running Well, okay, maybe I’m thinking about the dishwasher being turned on but I mean, like, those things don’t sit on my heart. The things that sit on my heart are the things that matter the most to me.
I remember laying in bed and thinking did I read to the kids enough? Did I spend time with them? In other words, did we get connected? Connection for me is one of my highest values and priorities. So if I spend all day getting a ton of stuff done in my home or in my business without connecting, I have a little thing that comes up for me at night. It just kind of alerts me that there’s something that mattered that I maybe didn’t pay attention to, and I’m hoping that we’re not gonna jump all over this and get critical, and this, oftentimes, is how our wisdom speaks to us, and I want you to be looking for these opportunities.
Another time that this would come from me and it still does it’s when I’m on vacation or I’m unplugged and I’m free to dream a little bit, and I’ll come home from time off or time away with this renewed sense of what’s important to me, and I’d often say to my husband how can we keep this feeling of fun in our family or connection, or how can we keep making time to breathe, cause that felt so great and I need to keep a little bit of this going on in my regular life. Guys, this is our wisdom speaking to us. This is a neon light pointing hey, that’s what you need to say yes to more, and we wanna be able to front load these things as we say yes. Well, you know what I mean by front load. It means we put it in first, and that’s not always the way we do it. Instead, I think we kind of react to the demands around us and then we fill up our time with the loudest demand, and what I’m saying is that sometimes we need to come up with things that aren’t even in front of us as an option right now, like there’s no one demanding, banging your door down, asking you to get more sleep. You have to come up with that one on your own. That could come from your vision of how you wanna feel, what you want your life to have in it. That would need to come from you. That’s part of us crafting the life we wanna have.
It takes time and creativity and imagination, I think, to connect to those things sometimes. So it makes sense that it’s not at top of mind for most of us, but it’s important that we get to dream about these things because no one else is probably dreaming those things for you. Well, well, I am. I’m dreaming those things for you. In fact, I actually have tug-of-war’s in my office sometimes when I suggest some of these things and clients just shake their heads nope, no time for me in my life to sleep or eat or play or any of that. No time. And I’m dreaming it for them and I want you to dream it for you, not blow your life up and just drop all your commitments. I know that’s not reasonable, that’s not healthy. We’re not even looking to do that. But let’s just add some of the health and safety and life-giving joy or creativity things you care about. Add those things to your list of options so maybe you can choose them more often and say yes to them.
And here are some yes options you might want to choose from or consider choosing from when you’re setting your boundaries. I will say yes to getting seven hours of sleep each night. I will say yes to taking a nap once in a while if I’m really tired. I will say yes to eating breakfast or eating well throughout the day. I will say yes to which activities at my children’s school make the best use of my time in staying connected to them. I will say yes to being treated with respect and kindness in how I treat myself and how I expect others to treat me. Everything else that comes your way will have to fit into the time and energy you have left over, or else you will have to say no. And the truth is that the no will come automatically and much easier after the yes is already clear to you.
Our next step how do we say no with confidence and grace? Well, technically, this is called communicating effectively. It’s an important part of holding to your boundaries. The boundary is for you, not for the other person. You have placed it because you needed clarity, stability and safety. The plan of what will happen is yours, so you’ll need to use some confidence here. This isn’t about other people, not loving them, not wanting to support them. It’s about you taking care of yourself. And did you know? There’s a way to say no that is so kind and confident that people will almost thank you. It goes like this Thank you so much for thinking of me, but I’m not able to take that on right now. I’d love to help another time. And then you change the subject.
Saying no doesn’t mean that you’re not a nice person. It means you’re taking responsibility for your life, and this is a belief that we have to believe in our own minds first, or else we will be undermined every single time we go to set a boundary. When you say no, you’re simply choosing which things you can reasonably take on and which things you can’t, and this is what keeps you and your family healthy and strong and, especially, free of resentment. So you wanna be able to say no while you hold on to the relationship, and I want you to be able to think about both of those things, but in the right order. Your decision about what you’re going to do or not do comes first, and mostly I think we flip that. We put our caring about people first because we don’t wanna hurt their feelings, we don’t wanna disrupt connection, we don’t want to have conflict, and that sets us up to have difficulty in saying no when we really need to. So your decision about what you’re going to do needs to come first, so you can be authentic and free from resentment, which in the end is really going to be good for your relationship, right? Because when we inauthentically agree to things, then we feel resentful and that feels like the other person put us in the situation, which then creates some kind of enmity between us, right? Even if it’s silent and just in our own heads it’s a disconnection. That’s part of that resentment trap. So we need to be authentic. But we can also hold on to the relationship when we say no. You could say I’m sorry I can’t take in dinner on Friday, but thank you for asking me. I’ll keep that friend in my prayers. I’ll find some time to give her a call. I’ll drop her a note. Your caring about your friend can exist while you say no and you can then move to act upon that caring in another way or at another time that will serve your friend.
Most of us get stuck with setting boundaries because we care so much, and that once again takes us back down into our values to help us understand why we’re having trouble with something. And I love that, because from those values where you’re caring, you can find that there are many ways to care about someone, even if you have to say no to that specific request. What do you do when someone does not take no for an answer? Has that ever happened to you? It has happened to me many times. When I finally get clear on my values, my priorities, my preferences, and I decide to say no, no, thank you, and the person asks again. And then what? What do you do? Well, this is a normal part of boundary setting and keeping your choices.
Decisions and boundaries are going to get challenged, especially in the beginning. If you’re new to starting to say no to people, you may have a lot of people around you who are used to that automatic yes and you may have to be patient and hold your ground. Think about your child asking you if they could ride their bike after dinner and you think it’s just too late. They ask and you say no. And then what happens? They usually ask again, right this time with some more objections Look, it’s still light. Or you, let me do it last week, or Adam’s mom lets him do it, or you’re the meanest mom ever, or any number of responses.
If you’re holding your boundary, what do you say? Well, you restate your answer and it can be done really nicely. Basically, you make what I call a boundary sandwich With boundary setting. Your main filling is the meat. That’s your decision and that’s what you will hold to. The bread is the way that you hold on to the relationship and you keep a connection and you’re able to kind of restate your feelings of care or concern or offer an alternative, anything else, but the meat in the middle is you holding your boundary. So it might sound like this oh sweetie, I know how much you wanna go right now. My answer is no, but maybe we can do something else before bed or tomorrow. Maybe we could go right after dinner. Do you hear how, no matter what you say before and what you say after, you are going to hold the boundary.
Another question can you serve on the committee this year? Your answer is no. Then, with your friend, you might give them that boundary sandwich. Thank you so much. It’s such an honor that you’d ask me. But no, I won’t be able to do that this year. And then you might offer something that holds on to the relationship. It could be appreciating them or an offer to do something different, or a validation that you care about them. When you’re delivering your boundary, you can hold on to the relationship while you do it. That’s the basic concept here, that balance. We talk about where you care about you and you care about them. Your caring about them does not take the place of you caring about you. The decision is yours, it’s not about them and you need to communicate that. So what if you keep giving them the boundary sandwich and they keep asking and they don’t take the no?
Then you use the broken record technique. It’s a fun game I’ll play with my clients to see how many ways they can generate an answer to communicate their boundary. I’ll give them a minute and I’ll have them write down as many sentences as they can come up with. That says basically the same thing. My answer is no. Thanks for asking me, but I’m not able to do it this year. Oh, you’re so thoughtful to think of me, but no, I’m just not able to do it this year. Maybe in the future. Wow, I’m really honored you’d ask me. It’s just not going to work for me this year. Oh, not this year. My life is a little over planned so far. Oh, I’ve got to say no. Hate to do it, but I have to say no with some humor. You’re a hard person to say no to. I appreciate all your reasons. I just have to stick to my decision Now. I didn’t take a full minute, but try this challenge.
We call it the broken record because when you’re playing a vinyl record album on an old fashioned record player, if there’s a scratch in the record, it will replay that phrase of the song over and over and over again until you pick the needle up off that scratch on the record. This is a technique that you can use when you need to say no and someone is not listening. They want to wear you down and you have to outlast them. So think broken record, and you can mix it up a bit with adding a little something before and after each response. Ultimately, you’re going to hold to your decision and you may need to just end the discussion by changing the subject using humor, and if it’s getting aggressive, then you might have to be more direct and risk a breach in the relationship. And I just want you to remember we are not looking at keeping all relationships as tight and close as possible.
When you set boundaries, you often start to be able to see where it’s safe to be close to someone and where it is not safe to be close to someone. And there will come a time when you’re teaching your children, especially about dating, about how to interact with each other, even their peers. If someone is pushing them to do something that they do not feel comfortable doing, they might have to get firm and strong with that person and even decide that that is not a person that they are going to spend time with in the future, simply because that person is not honoring their boundaries. I found that so much easier to see for my kids than I sometimes see it for myself. I want my daughter to be able to say no to somebody that’s pressuring her to do anything. I want my son to feel empowered to say no so that he can make decisions that are safe for him. And this is pressure that we feel, but especially our kids are gonna be feeling as they’re growing up and they’re dealing with that desire to be approved of with their peers. So you wanna be modeling this. This is our leadership, parenting model. You wanna be doing this in your life so that they can just grow up seeing you have very firm boundaries that you feel strongly about and that you clearly communicate and that you hold to. And remember this isn’t like right and left. You’re setting a boundary, saying no here, no, there, no, there all the time. It’s at the times when you need it. You’re going to set the example for them and how to do it.
Now, if the pressure is high or if you kind of get that deer in the headlights feeling when someone asks you to do something, it’s okay to use a spacer. A spacer does just what the word says it gives you space, and that’s in our original definition of setting boundaries. By the way, that’s why I love it so much. A spacer delays your answer. Oh, thanks for asking me. I’ll have to check my calendar and get back to you. Or? Wow, that’s interesting. Let me think about it and I’ll get back to you. It’s a phrase that you use that delays having to give an answer.
If you don’t have time to think through things before giving an answer, use a spacer. If you’re getting pressure and the no isn’t being honored, use a spacer and make sure you circle back and give your final answer. Or else it may be assumed that you’re not saying no right away and that that means you said yes. So, within 24 hours, call on the phone or send a text clearly stating what your answer is. You can use the boundary sandwich to do it kindly, but be very clear. Spacers give you time to think, to look at your calendar, to talk with your family, to get out of the pressure of trying to please and get clear on what you want to do.
Look, our goal is not to shut down every person that asks you to do things. I want you to say yes to lots of things. I want you to volunteer, take on leadership roles, serve your friends and your community, excel in your work and challenge yourself. We’re not trying to keep your world small or make it seem like you aren’t capable of living a big life. You are totally capable. We just want you to feel aligned in your heart, clear that you have a voice and you can speak what is best for you, with power and understanding, and you can love and support people in the ways that work for you so you stay well. The best way to keep giving and loving and serving is by staying well and strong yourself. You’ll be so much more productive and less resentful because you are responsible for you and not for others. Remember, boundaries are for you, not for other people. No one needs to comply with your boundary. Only you need to comply with your boundary. So, with the exception of your little children’s safety and well-being. You are only responsible for yourself. And notice I didn’t say that you’re responsible for your children’s happiness. This allows you to let go of feeling responsible to make others happy or relieve their stress, and you are taking responsibility for your own happiness and managing your own stress.
When you say yes, it’s because you want to. You may gift a friend some of your time to help her out, but it’s your choice, not something you owe them. At times, you may feel a duty to help or serve in some way. Duty is honoring the values you hold, not being obligated to please others. I think duty is underrepresented in our society. Duty is what holds us together, but it comes from our values. You can trust your inner wisdom to guide you as you decide where to place your time and energy. With permission, you’ll be better able to hear that internal voice guiding you in each of your decisions.
This boundary setting stuff is about safety your safety, your wellness. It’s empowering, it takes care of you and it helps you model and teach your children how they might be able to do it for themselves one day. So how will you know when you need to pay more attention to your boundaries, when you’re saying yes, when you really want to say no, or when you’re feeling resentful, or when other people’s emergencies or priorities become your emergency and your priority. When we neglect the needs of the people in our inner circles, when we aren’t listening to our self-care needs like sleep, meditation, exercise, taking breaks, when we accept abuse in our relationships, or when we’re overly apologetic and don’t speak what we’re truly feeling and needing, all of those are signs that you need to pay attention to your boundaries, because they’re here to help us when we’re feeling out of control or off balance. And now you’ll hopefully have some ideas how to utilize them more powerfully and lovingly in your life.
So I invite you to breathe into your space. Dream a little about how you want your life to look, how you want it to feel, imagine what you want and what you need. This is part of making yourself happy. Remember how we talk about others not being responsible for our happiness. Well, this is the vehicle for driving you to your own happiness Really being in touch with matters to you, knowing your priorities, keeping your wellness and safety at the top of the list and then feeling good about what you say yes to. If your life is like mine, we’re still probably running at a pretty fast pace, but you can feel good about that, knowing where and why you’re going in that direction and if it ever gets to be too much and it starts to feel out of balance or unsafe, you can have the confidence that you know what to do to reset and use your power to address the situation. There’s so much more to talk about regarding boundaries, but that’s plenty for today.
Have a great week, my friends, take care. Hey friends, if you enjoyed this podcast and the information that we’re sharing, would you please consider sharing it with your friends? It can sometimes be hard to find me, so if you can leave a review or share this information, that will help others get the skills and tools that they need to build resilience in their lives too. Thanks so much for joining me. The Leadership Parenting Podcast is for general information purposes only. It is not therapy and should not take the place of meeting with a qualified mental health professional. The information on this podcast is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition, illness or disease. It’s also not intended to be legal, medical or therapeutic advice. Please consult your doctor or mental health professional for your individual circumstances. Thanks again and take care.